Design Making with a Robot Arm

June 20 - June 24, Summer 2016 

This course is being offered through MIT's Professional Education Program.  It is open to the public - Register here!


Robotic technologies open up exciting creative design possibilities through advanced material manipulation and interactive assembly processes. From architectural design to product and engineering design, robotics are beginning to blur the boundary between digital computation and hands-on physical production methods. This transformation is being explored and developed in university research labs and will soon make its way into creative design fields.

This course provides practitioners and educators access to foundational knowledge that will enable them to integrate robotics in their design making practice or classroom. The course will teach the broad range of skills necessary for robotic programming, including solid, parametric, and contour modeling; visual programming; and principles of rapid prototyping. Participants will complete design making exercises with a 6-axis industrial robotic arm: multi-axis milling and pick and place assembly. Students will complete a one day final design project of their choosing.


  • Participants will gain an understanding of how robotic systems, when coupled with rapid prototyping, can broaden creative design potential.
  • Participants will learn robotic arm programming techniques and operation for multi-axis milling and pick and place tasks including motion planning and end-effector control.
  • Participants will learn fundamental design computation skills including solid modeling, parametric modeling, contour modeling, and visual programming.
  • Participants will learn basics of rapid prototyping including laser cutting and 3D printing.


This course is for designers and makers of all backgrounds, including: architects, product designers, engineers, fabricators, makers, hobbyists, and design educators. Experience with 3D modeling is the only prerequisite.

Profiles of potential participants would include creative professionals who have some experience with rapid prototyping technologies and are looking to expand their skill set, educators in design fields looking to develop course material, or anyone looking for a week of creative making and exploring with advanced technologies.